Portraits have been used for centuries to denote people of importance, whether it be the portrait of a Queen or President on currency, a criminal on a wanted poster, or a loved one in a yearbook photo. But in the age of selfies and profile pictures how often do we actually use a portrait to denote the realistic personality and likeness of the person within it, especially when the camera is in our own hands? Portraits have always fascinated me because it shows a moment in time with a person that may no longer exist, I’ve always questioned who the subject was and wondered what it was like for that person to sit and have their likeness put onto a canvas. Portraits were formally a luxury, when mirrors were not widespread, to see a painting of what you looked like was outstanding, but in the present day we are so consumed with out image and how others see it that I’ve found myself looking into a mirror with little emotion.
Portraiture and figurative work has always been what my artwork has leaned to, even when I’ve been told to change or experiment with other subject matter I’ve always found myself gravitate back to faces and the human body. I’ve had many people ask me to paint or draw a picture of them and they always ask for me to “edit” it, to make the pimples or wrinkles go away, or add muscles that they don’t have. And in history this is common, I’ve sat through many lectures that talk of how a portrait of a famous king was very different than what they actually looked like, to make them more appealing to the people that would only ever see this painting and never the actual person. However when looking at myself as the subject I’ve never found it appealing to put my own likeness on the canvas, I’ve looked at it the same as how I viewed portraits in museums. Why would I paint a portrait of myself smiling with makeup, when I don’t feel like smiling, why don’t we have portraits of officials, whether painted or photographed, when they are sad or in a dark time of life? Why do we cover up such emotions, even to people we love?
These questions led me to explore how I have covered up my emotions, and to make a visualization of it on canvas. Rigid line work represents the emotions that I tend to bury, covering them with vivid colors and large brush strokes so as to force the viewer to look for the hidden images underneath, is a metaphor for how I have often hidden my emotions with makeup or silence. These paintings cover the over all feeling of static that often can bog my life down, and that has been more prevalent since graduating college. Other images are inspired by the many pop culture references that I have found relation to when in times of loneliness. Putting myself into images of a floating child, inspired from the novel “It”, or with the demons from the Dragon Age world has also helped me view these emotions introspectively and made me realize that others have created these pop culture features with the same emotions.